Understanding Our Full-Timing Costs

An Overview Of Our Expenses

Over the years, since we went on the road as full-time RVers in August 2005, we have documented every penny we have spent.

We have organized those expenses and reported them each year on this website. Our goal has been to present our costs of living a moderate lifestyle on the road.

We view all of our expenses as either Basic Living Expenses, One-Time Expenses, or Business Expenses.

Basic Living Expenses are repetitive expenses and minor miscellaneous expenses incurred in the course of everyday living. These are the expenses that we feel every full-timer will have although the categories and amounts may vary depending on individual lifestyle choices.

One-Time Expenses are non-repetitive, large expenses we have incurred. Some we considered necessary to improve safety. Some we considered lifestyle improvement upgrades that were not necessities. Some were large expenses that were unplanned or unexpected. These are expenses that full-timers may or may not have depending on circumstances and lifestyle choices.

Business Expenses are expenses incurred in the course of generating business revenue to help sustain our full-timing lifestyle.

Note: One thing to keep in mind is that we have absolutely no debt and we don't use credit cards, so you won't see debt payments of any kind as you review our financials.

An Expense Summary (2005 - 2014)

In our nine and a half years on the road, we've spent a total of about $467,400 (not including Business Expenses). That comes out to an annual average of about $49,200 per year. Yikes! Really?

Basic Living Expenses
Okay, $299,300, of that total has been for Basic Living Expenses. That comes out to a much more reasonable $31,500 a year ($2,625 a month) on average for our 113 months on the road. A summary and line-by-line breakdown of Basic Living Expenses is shown on our 2005 - 2014 Full-time RVing Expense Averages page.

That page also breaks down our Basic Living Expenses by the months we workamp. It shows the difference in expenses between workamping months and non-workamping/travel months. We hope that provides additional useful information for those that don't intend to work on the road as well as those that do.

One-Time Expenses
So, what about the other $168,100? Well, that amount has been for those One-Time Expenses and large unexpected expenses discussed above. That comes out to an additional $17,700 a year.

Let's break that down as some of those expenses were necessary, some were RV upgrades and safety improvements (very nice, but not absolutely necessary), and some were simply "because we wanted to" (completely unnecessary). We'll list them and code them as follows: (N=Necessary, U=RV upgrades & safety improvement, and L=Luxury)

  • $36,200 Income & Self-employment taxes (mostly from 2013 & 2014) - (N)
  • $21,000 Jeep Liberty (includes equipment upgrades for off-roading; Note that a tree fell on our 2003 Jeep Liberty totaling it in 2013, and we used the insurance money to replace it with a 2005 Jeep Liberty) - (L)
  • $17,000 2005 Ford F450 engine replacement (August 2012) - (N)
  • $12,000 Medical & health related ($8,500 due to Howard's pulmonary embolism in 2013) - (N)
  • $11,700 25th Anniversary trip to South Africa (one month in October 2011) - (L)
  • $10,600 Utility Bodywerks Custom Hauler Bed for truck (September 2014) - (U)
  • $ 8,000 Replace RV flooring, kitchen sink, & interior changes - (U)
  • $ 7,200 Electrical & Solar Upgrade (2007 & 2008) - (U)
  • $ 6,500 Tires, wheels, and safety - (U)
  • $ 6,200 Fifth Wheel full body paint (August 2014) - (U)
  • $ 5,400 Fifth wheel suspension and brakes upgrade - (U)
  • $ 4,800 Cameras, computers, & internet equipment - (L)
  • $ 4,300 50th Birthday Cruise (December 2013) - (L)
  • $ 3,600 Recreational equipment - (L)
  • $ 2,700 FlexArmor Spray-on seamless roof (November 2013) - (U)
  • $ 2,200 Winegard TRAV'LER automatic rooftop satellite dish - (L)
  • $ 2,200 2007 Cruise - (L)
  • $ 2,100 Repair truck rails after dropping fifth wheel (June 2006) - (N)
  • $ 1,900 Personal expenses related to Howard's mother's passing (December 2014) - (L)
  • $ 1,400 Replace AGM Batteries (November 2013) - (U)
  • $ 1,100 RV Accessories - (U)

    So that comes out to $51,700 in (L) items ($5,400 per year average), $49,100 in (U) items ($5,200 per year average), and $67,300 in (N) items ($7,100 per year average).

    If we want to be really conservative, we could budget our $31,500 a year in Basic Living Expenses plus our $17,700 a year in these large expenses, regardless of whether they were necessities, desired upgrades, or just fun, for a total of $49,200 a year.

    If we don't want to include the "just fun luxury" items, we would budget the $31,500 plus $12,300 a year for the necessities and upgrades/safety items for a total of $43,800 per year. Now keep in mind that the "necessities" total includes income and self-employment taxes that have increased significantly in the last few years due to great income years for us. If we remove that $3,800 (average over 9.5 years) for taxes, then we're down right at $40,000 per year.

    Or, if we only want to include the Basic Living Expenses plus a cushion of average emergency/necessity items, then we would use the $31,500 plus $7,100 per year for a total annual budget of $38,600, just a little over the $36,000 a year that we say is a good "moderate" annual budget for a full-timing couple that doesn't workamp.

    At any rate, you can see the detailed breakdown of those expenses on our One-Time Expenses page. There, you can decide for yourself if those expenses are necessary or unnecessary and see if you need to consider them in your own budgeting.

    Business Expenses
    Our Business Expenses are shown on our annual Business Summary page: RV-Dreams Annual Business Financials. There you will see a total of about $107,000 in expenses from 2006 - 2014. The majority of that $67,720 is NOT included in the $467,400 figure at the top of this section, and ALL of those expenses have been covered by our business revenue. However, there is some overlap of our Business Expenses with the other categories, and we've tried to explain that below.

    Viewing The Details

    For each year, we have created a web page detailing our expenses. Those pages look similar, but they have evolved over the years (hopefully for the better in more recent years). They include both the Basic Living Expenses and most, but not all, of the One-Time Expenses.

    The 2005 Expenses page looks much different than later years. Also, since we started on the road in August of 2005, it shows only five months of expenses for the year. In addition, since we paid all of our insurance costs (as well as some other expenses) up front for 2005 BEFORE we went on the road, those expenses are not included in the spreadsheet. They are, however, noted in the footnotes on that page.

    Both the 2005 Expenses page and 2006 Expenses page show One-Time Expenses lumped into the "Miscellaneous" category.

    Starting with the 2007 Expenses page, we created a category called RV Upgrades/Budget Cushion for the One-Time Expenses. On the 2008 Expenses page, the 2009 Expenses page, and the 2010 Expenses page, we changed the name of the One-Time Expenses category to Emergencies/Budget Cushion.

    Also, it was in 2008 when we started showing our total expenses with the One-Time Expenses included and with them excluded. Again, the One-Time Expenses are expenses we incurred that others may or may not incur, so we wanted to separate those out to make it easier to see our Basic Living Expenses.

    So, while we want you to be able to see our expenses for each year on the individual pages, it may be more meaningful to look at the averages over the years on the 2005 - 2014 Full-time RVing Expense Averages page. That's a better picture of the Basic Living Expenses that most full-timers will have.

    Note 1: Though our 2005 Expenses page doesn't show expenses in many of the categories (because we paid annual amounts before we started), the appropriate monthly amounts are figured into our 2005 - 2014 averages.

    Note 2: Though we classify our satellite internet expense (2005 - 20013) and cellular internet expenses (2013 - 2014) as a Business Expense, and it doesn't show up in our annual Basic Living Expense pages, we did include our internet costs in the 2005 - 2014 averages since most full-timers will have a similar expense.

    Note 3: Though we mentioned above that some of our large One-Time Expenses were shown in the "Miscellaneous" category in the 2005 & 2006 Expense pages, we took those expenses out when figuring the 2005 - 2014 averages so that they are not double-counted in both Basic Living Expenses and One-Time Expenses. They are included in the One-Time Expenses as described below.

    If you want to see our One-Time Expenses totaling over $168,000 in our first nine and a half years on the road, go to the One-Time Expenses page. There you will find our large expenses that may or may not fit into your lifestyle.

    Note: About $4,800 of expenses on the One-Time Expenses page are for Technology, Cameras, & Laptops. Those items, because of their use in our businesses, are Business Expenses and are included on the annual Business Summary pages. However, we included them in the One-Time Expenses since they are representative of large costs other full-timers may have that don't have businesses.